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general he will find some brief notes, or references to popular works, which will enable him to pursue his inquiries and solve his difficulties. And in one instance, a Discourse (formerly preached before the University of Oxford) is added in the Appendix, upon the Extent and Efficacy of the Mosaic Atonements, which, it is hoped, may throw light upon the view of the Primitive Sacrifices opened in the Sixth of these Discourses.
More than this was not required, perhaps, in order to the practical purposes directly contemplated in the following pages. Yet if in any measure they enable the Christian reader, under the Divine blessing, to reap increased delight and improvement from the Historical Scriptures of the Old Testament, they will at the same time excite in him a new or more lively interest in many other subjects of devout study. And possibly, although the work assumes throughout that these records were written by inspired men, it may contribute something towards the
prevention of a serious evil with which this country has been for some time threatened, and tend to strengthen incidentally the reader's conviction of their Canonical authority and Inspiration.
What probability there may be of these Discourses being blessed to such good purposes, it is difficult for me to estimate. But I have long been persuaded, that a treatise on this portion of Scripture is wanted; and in hazarding this assertion, I refer partly to existing opinions, and the ordinary state of knowledge respecting the Historical Scriptures, partly to the works aetually extant concerning them, and generally known to English readers.
And yet I would by no means be understood to affirm, that the following pages contain much, if any thing, that might not be gathered from previous works. Modern unbelief, perhaps, can raise few objections to the sacred history, which have not been already answered and removed by Dr. Waterland, Leland, and Samuel Chandler, Bp. Conybeare, and Bp. Watson. Whilst as to the positive intention and uses of this portion of the Old Testament, not to speak of Commentaries upon the Scriptures, or occasional illustrations of the Histories interspersed throughout the works of our Divines upon the Law and the Prophets, little or nothing actually new can be added to what may be found even in all the well-known Keys and Introductions to sacred Scripture ; in those, for instance, of Bp. Gray and Mr. Hartwell Horne, in Collyer's Sacred Interpreter, chap. ii.—xvi. or Professor Franck, De Scopo Veteris et Novi Testamenti, §. i.-xviii. But those who are acquainted with these writers will perceive, even from a cursory examination of the Contents of these Discourses, that their objects and mine have not been the same. Of the writings with which I am acquainted, the nearest perhaps to my present purpose are the vigorous sketches of the objects and uses of the Mosaic writings, drawn with the hand of a master in Luther's General Preface to the Books of the Old Testament, and his Discourse upon the profitable reading of the Books of Moses by Christians. (Opp. tom. iii. ed. 1583.) But these are as much too concise, as the works before referred to are too diffuse, and enter too much into detail. Not to mention, that some new light has in fact been thrown upon the Old Testament since the publication of the earlier works at least above mentioned ; that not every position maintained in them can be approved ; and that, in truth, so rich a mine are the Old Scriptures, that something more or less deserving of attention may generally be extracted from them by every careful and independent research.
It is therefore my hope, as well as my prayer,
that these Discourses may prove acceptable and useful both to the general reader, and to the younger students in divinity. But if not, I trust at least that they may hereafter, in a happier age, perhaps, not so much absorbed by transitory interests, nor indisposed to religious peace and quietness, become the occasion of drawing forth some better work less unworthy of its sacred subject.
Oriel College, January 31, 1833.